This year, former Cape Breton Eagles and Baie-Comeau Drakkar right winger, Gabriel Proulx, is the QMJHL’s special spokesperson for the Hooked on School Days. The alumnus admits he was honoured when he was approached for the role and he accepted without hesitation.
“I didn’t hesitate for a second,” said Proulx. I just got out of the league and it is an honour for me if I can have a positive impact on the young players in the league.
Indeed, Proulx made his last strides in the league back in March of 2020. He is therefore very familiar with the reality QMJHL players must face as student athletes. Furthermore, he attended almost exclusively distance learning courses at the CEGEP level during his time in the Q, so he is well aware of what all students in Quebec are going through this year during this pandemic period.
“Perseverance sums up my time in the QMJHL, but also my overall journey as an athlete,” explains Proulx, who is pursuing his academic career in actuarial science at Concordia University.
Education was always at the top of the forward’s priorities, and playing junior hockey was not going to change that. Education and hockey were—and still are—his two greatest passions in life. Proulx considers himself privileged to have been able to juggle them so successfully in recent years.
With the busy schedule a QMJHL player must face, Gabriel Proulx is convinced that the key to success lies in good planning. Having a clear separation between hockey and school allowed him to give his very best in both spheres.
“Planning is really crucial,” says the former Eagles and Drakkar player. “When you are well organized, you take some stress off yourself and you can perform better.”
Proulx is also very grateful for the work done by the league to offer both help and guidance to its student athletes.
“We have a lot of tools made available to us so that we are able to succeed at school, all while playing in the QMJHL. The academic advisors are always there to help us, on any day, at any time.”
Proulx, who was a 2019-2020 finalist for the Marcel-Robert Trophy that’s awarded to the QMJHL Student Athlete of the Year, is also very thankful for the academic advisors who supported him during his junior career. Most notably Ryan MacPherson and Elie Blondin with the Cape Breton Eagles, as well as Tommy Brûlé with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.
“They took care of all the paperwork involved with the courses so that I could focus solely on my success,” Proulx recalls about the academic advisors who helped him in the Q.
The Beloeil, Quebec product doesn’t shy away from encouraging all players new to the league to take advantage of the tools offered by the QMJHL to be as successful in school as they are on the ice.
This year, Proulx was supposed to pursue his journey as a student athlete, but the pandemic decided otherwise. Like many hockey leagues across Quebec, but also around the world, the Canadian University season never kicked off last fall.
“It’s the first time in my life that I’ve gone so long without playing a game, I miss it a lot,” says Proulx, who was able to skate a few times this winter.
If hockey is currently missing from his life, he considers himself enormously lucky to be able to keep his head above water thanks to the schoolwork that takes up most of his time.
He echoes the words of former QMJHL and NHL coach Guy Boucher, who says that to be at the peak of productivity, you must keep as busy as possible.
Now in his third university semester, Proulx still has a passion for his studies and he hopes to pass it on to all student athletes during the “Hooked on School Days.”